Promising First Day of a New Era


Sketching and Taking Notes from Schiller

I awoke to a sweetness in the air, 2020 already hovering in the early morning as a harbinger of new possibilities. While waking slowly, I began turning over in my imagination some new attempts at watercolor sketching en plein air during these winter months. I rose from bed and retrieved some files of summertime sketches, including one of my favorites below:


8 x 10″ watercolor sketch in 11 x 14″ white mat


Photo taken of winter fields in Dickens, Texas

While traveling over the Christmas holiday, I frequently photographed barren stretches of land that take me back to primal memories of Andrew Wyeth drybrush sketches that my art teacher showed me in ninth grade. I still am studying these earth tones and textures, puzzling how to interpret them on paper without presenting a boring composition.


Andrew Wyeth, “Flock of Crows”

In all my years of making art, I have turned many corners and known many satisfactions over pieces I’ve created. But this Wyeth drybrush watercolor and pencil study still remains for me the Gold Standard of watercolor landscape. To this day I have not been able to view this original work; the only times it has been on display at a major Wyeth retrospective, I was unable to travel to the site and see it for myself. It remains on my bucket list. I am keeping this image before me as I study the photograph from Dicken’s, Texas. The time has probably arrived for me to attempt a winterscape such as this.

Later, while reading over coffee this magnificent book by Schiller, I came across the following passage:

Nature may touch our organs as vigorously and variously as you please—all her diversity is lost upon us, because we are looking for nothing in her but what we have put there, because we don’t allow her to come forward to meet us, from without, but rather strive with impatiently anticipating reason to go out from within ourselves to meet her.

Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters, Thirteenth Letter

Reading this piece resulted in a shock of recognition; in a recent public lecture, I drew the following words from Peter London’s Drawing Closer to Nature:

Go into Nature raw and simple and just sit quietly doing nothing other than allowing Nature to become accustomed to your presence.  Soon enough, often just beyond what you had taken to be the threshold of your patience and perception, Nature steps forward and begins to reveal its features to you. Rush it and you will never see it. Grab for it and it will give you nothing of its real self, only what you set out to grab.  But wait a while longer, and the place begins to breathe audibly, to creep and flutter, beat, to speak in a thousand ways.  You listen.  That is today’s conversation.

O.K., I believe I am ready to begin a new painting . . .

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.



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